Divine Appointments

The God Encounter Weekend in Elk Grove was amazing and it was a divine appointment indeed. I was blessed to teach the ladies on Saturday and lead a small group. I was so blessed to walk through this 24 hour experience of discovery and freedom with them. If you want more details on what God Encounter is:

http://www.cindygrasso.com/Cindy_Grasso/God_Encounter.html

As we all prepare our homes and hearts for Thanksgiving, here’s a encouragement to keep your eyes open for divine appointments:

“There came a day when he gently set aside the hammer. He looked thoughtfully at the saw. It had served him well throughout the years. As the sun set on the carpentry shop, the warm rays lit the sawdust on the floor and the scrap wood on the table. He paused and surveyed the familiar room. He glanced at the chisel laying on the work bench. It was the one his father had taught him to use. Many long hours were spent here but now it was time to put the tools away. Now it as time to close shop. It wasn’t just the end of the day but an end of an era. Tomorrow would bring the beginning of a new one. His work as the son of a carpenter had come to an end, and his work as the son of God was about to begin. For thirty years he had worked for his earthly father. Now his last three would be dedicated to the work of his heavenly father.

Jesus cleared his schedule…completely.

He cleared his schedule and set out to keep God’s. He set out to keep some very important appointments – divine appointed ones.

Early morning or late at night, Jesus would keep his personal appointments with God (we call it prayer). Then throughout the day he kept the divine appointments his heavenly father scheduled for him.

Sometimes Jesus went to the people. Other times, they came to him.

He healed their bodies.
He touched their hearts.
He opened the eyes of the blind and set free those who were enslaved.
He met them by lonely wells.
He touched them in the midst of multitudes.

No matter who they were, where they were or what time it was, Jesus kept every divine appointment. He kept every one up to the final appointment of his earthy ministry to pay the price of mankind’s sin:

“To be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities”. Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

But that was not the end, it was another beginning. Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and continued to keep divine appointments. He had one with two women outside his empty tomb. He had one with the disciples in the upper room. He had one with two men on the road to Emmaus. He had one with John and Peter on the shoreline of Galilee.

And Jesus told his disciples to clear their schedules. He would be going to heaven and scheduling divine appointments for them to keep. Jesus told them that he wouldn’t leave them on their own, he would send his own Spirit to be their companion, comforter, guide, and direct communicator to the Father.

The disciples kept their appointments faithfully unto death. Then they passed down the heritage of being witnesses of the good news and divine appointments keepers to all those who claim Christ as Savior and Lord.

Now it is our turn. We need to clear our schedules of preconceived plans for the kingdom of God and let the Holy Spirit direct us into his divine appointments.”

From a little coffee table book I wrote years ago called “Points on Perspective”, Point #9

What does your divine appointment schedule look like this week?

To Be Loved

Sometimes it is hard to imagine someone else’s life. How does someone get addicted to drugs, become an alcoholic or end up as a prostitute? There is always a first step, always a friend to introduce you, always a reason.

At youth convention last weekend I got a chance to connect with other ministers, some youth pastors, some speakers, some who do school assemblies. Our conversation kept coming back to the sex slave industry in our own country.

How does this happen? What is the first step?

The stories of the thousands of young women who are living a life of a prostitute or sex slave in the United States seems to be remarkably similar: An older guy (18-20years old) starts paying attention to a 13 year old girl. He texts her, calls her, tells her she is beautiful and that he likes her. He says she is so pretty that he wants to take pictures of her and would that be okay? Sure, she says. So he takes naked pictures of her and tells her that he loves her. She tells her friends that she has a “new boyfriend” and that he is a little bit older. He tells her to move in with him. He tells her that he needs her to go “on a date” with a friend of his. She tells him no, he tells her that he will send all those pics he took to her friends or parents. She goes on the “date”. She runs away from her home and into a new life. Her “boyfriend” takes care of her, buys her what she needs, loves her. All she has to do is go on “a few” dates a night, or over the weekend. Since living is expensive, her boyfriend needs a few more girls to go on dates so that they can afford their lifestyle, but really he loves just her. Bad love is better than no love. Although soon, bad love is exchanged for no love, abuse and total control.

My heart just breaks for these girls.
All they want is to be loved.

It is the condition of the human heart, we all have a longing to be loved. What do we do to fulfill it?

Remember Ali? I told a part of her story in the “Tapestry” blog l posted on last Wednesday. Over the past week, Ali has come to a life changing decision. She texted Brandie last week: “If I really wanted to go, how soon could I?” then “I can’t do this anymore” and finally, “Brandie, this is Ali – I gave my phone back, this is just someone’s phone I’m using, I’m at my grandpa’s and I’m so ready now.”

Brandie set up an interview to get Ali into a ministry home and her off the streets on Saturday. It went great. She was accepted into the home and now is waiting to actually move in.

Please continue to pray for her, we will all feel better when she is actually in there. The waiting is the hardest part. The temptation to go back to “her boyfriend” very well might be the fight of her life. Pray that she remembers she has a purpose from God and that the hope of her new future infuses her with excitement and anticipation. Pray that she will trust God to provide her needs.

Ali was once a young girl that got a “new boyfriend” and ended up as a prostitute. From her perspective, she didn’t stay with her pimp out of fear but stayed with her boyfriend out of love. I don’t think most of the these girls think of themselves as slaves, they think they are being taken care of and…loved. Although, eventually they feel that they are not worth anything better.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine someone else’s life.
Sometimes it’s easy to see that “Only by the grace of God, there go I“.

After youth convention, one of my girls named Kayla tagged me in a Facebook post and I think it sums up perfectly God’s heart for his daughters:

I have something better than drugs.
I have something better than alcohol.
I have something better than sex.
I have God’s love and I’m not ashamed to post it on my Facebook Did you know that people like Nicole Banks, Cindy Hanson Grasso, Konner Soderburg & Brandon Coleman care about me? I had no idea how much love God has to offer until now.”

How many things do we compromises in our own lives to be loved? Too many. What have you done to try to fulfill that longing? You don’t have to be something your not, or do things to try to win someone else’s approval. You already have God’s.

Tapestry

You just don’t know how valuable you are. You don’t see how vital it is that you live in love and love every single soul that comes within your reach. What you are doing, whether it is cleaning toilets, washing dishes, office work, being a barista or a nail technician – is valuable, important, priceless.

This morning I got to talk with my good friend, Brandie , and hear a story about a beautiful young woman who started coming to the City Impact Center in Vegas. This young woman was surviving the inner-city of Vegas as a prostitute and one night decided she needed help, so she texted God.  She texted “0” and figured it would get to Him.  It did. There is a power in prayer that we can not even comprehend. Whispered, shouted, sung or texted when prayer comes from an authentic place in the heart – God hears. Compelled to leave her pimp the next day, she packed her bags. She moved in with her grandfather, who went to church and started to try to live for God. She got baptized and began to volunteer down at the Impact Center. This was only a few months ago.  There is so much more to her story and I will share it with you soon.

But right now, I want you to understand how valuable you are.  That your life is woven in a tapestry of divine purpose and it is important for you to fulfill your part in it.

This young woman’s story is far from over. This last weekend a spiritual battle was fought over the life of this precious woman. Tired of being lonely and broke, she decided to go back to work as a prostitute – just two days to get caught up.  When Brandie saw her again, she was emotionally numb but told Brandie that even as she got ready to “back to work” that she could sense God pursuing her:

  • She accidentally texted Brandie, instead of her pimp.
  • When she went to get her nails done at a 24 hour nail salon that caters to prostitutes, the nail technition starting telling her that God loved her, that she was precious to Him.
  • A homeless woman stopped her to tell her that God had a purpose for her life.
Pray for her, her name is Ali. We want to see her get free and fulfill her true purpose.  She can sense that God wants to use her to reach other prostitutes and make a difference in the inner city. But she doesn’t know to even begin to try when the lure of her old life looms so large over her.
I think we underestimate God’s pursuit. His pursuit of us and those who are lost. God wants to use us to impact the world around us but we get distracted by lies and self-doubt. God is using a nail tech, a homeless woman, an amazing mom who is directing an after school program for inner- city kids to let this young woman know that she is loved by God.   I guarantee that He wants to use you right where you are.  You are His voice, His hands. You are made to love someone who doesn’t know how precious they are to God.
“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God.”
Colossians 3:2
 &
” My counsel for you is simple and  straight forward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him.”
Colossians 2:6 msg

You don’t have to wait for an audible voice to do something for God. What is in your hands? Just go ahead with what you have been given and live Christ. His love transforms lives and you are called to be a part of it.

Today I am praying for Ali.

Today I am praying for all of us to be more aware of what God is doing and join Him in the pursuit.

In the middle of God Encounter Weekend

We are in day two of our God Encounter Weekend. I am about to teach the session on Sexual Purity, Breaking Unhealthy Bonds.

With a lawn mower buzzing outside and my spirit buzzing inside, this one session is one of the most heart breaking to go through. Why? Because when I look into the girls eyes and see their souls ravaged by rape, incest, the lies told by boys who wanted oral sex or more and the lies they believe about themselves because of it, my heart is broken for them.

You just don’t knew what someone has been through. The stories they tell no one. The secrets they keep. I am always honored to be trusted and so thankful that God opens up these old festering wounds to heal them. And he does. If he opens it up, he heals it up and begins the process to wholeness.

The freedom that was paid for on the Cross, is being applied in this room and I am so thankful to be apart of it.

I get to bring the truth, show the truth, pray that the truth shatters all the lies and bondage each young woman walks in with so that they can walk out in freedom.

I love God Encounter Weekends.

The bad news, the good news

Today’s bad news: There is a cold that is chasing me down and trying to catch me. Ugh.
The good news is I have rested a lot in the last two days and am trying to take care of myself.

The bad news is I am going to speak 5 messages in the next two days- pray for me.

The good news is that this is a God Encounter Weekend, not a Cindy Encounter Weekend. When we make room for God, He always shows up. Mostly, I try to get out of the way anyway.

I wrote the following yesterday as I was getting ready and praying for this God Encounter Weekend. I know a couple of the teenagers that are coming are deeply wounded and just starting to accept God’s healing touch – this weekend is going to be pivotal for them. I wrote this with them in mind:

The bad news is that you are broken.
The good news is that you don’t have to stay that way.

The bad news is you have been hurt, taken advantage of, violated, victimized and that you have done this to others as well.

The good news is that you can be healed, remade, created anew, have victory and can be free from your past. Even if that past was yesterday, last week, last month.

The bad news is that healing is a process and it’s not easy.
Just like the recovery takes longer than the surgery,
So your healing takes longer that the sin that cuts you so deep.

The good news is you don’t go through it alone.

The bad news is that you are human and so is everyone else that lives on this planet. Sin happens.

The good news is there is a Savior, who was fully human and is fully divine. Fully able to understand. Fully able to redeem.

The bad news is your broken.
The good news is that I’m about to introduce you to the Healer.

God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 MSG)

Thank You, Jesus.

Better in the dark… I don’t think so

A line from a song I heard on the radio this morning:

“Girl, your beautiful and I hope you take this the wrong way but you look better with the lights off”

From “Better with the lights off”
By New boys/ Chris B

Are you serious?

I dropped the boys off at schools and on the two minute ride back home tuned to a Top 20 radio station to see what is new. I like to try to keep a pulse on what the teens are listening to and half the time I like the music myself. I find a good workout song or two. The other half of the time, I am appalled and horrified at the message of the songs. It was a appalling morning.

The song right before it was talking about wanting a “bad girl” and “wanting it so bad- just can’t wait, I. Don’t want something invisible, I want something physical.”

Then after that catchy song, this diamond. Good Lord. I understand that the most popular thing to sing about is sex. It sells. I like a good love song and being happily married, I enjoy, um..marriage. But I know the difference between intimacy with my mate and the crap that is in most club songs.

I do, however, think there is a truth about our culture that is being sung here:

“wanting it so bad- just can’t wait, I. Don’t want something invisible, I want something physical.”

This is the cry of the culture. Teenagers (and adults) want to feel loved and sex seems like the closest thing to it. Sexual intimacy is an expression of love, but it isn’t love. Too many find out the hard way that it is no substitute for love, sex itself doesn’t fill the void – it only adds to it. Even our best try at loving each other falls so short of meeting the need of our soul, because we are broken beings, faulty humans. This need can only be meet by God. When your soul is flourishing in that love, sexual intimacy is a gift, a bonding, the glue that binds two for life.

Since most of my time is spent working with 12-18 year olds and trying to guide them through the sexual gauntlet that is our culture, songs like these tick me off.

It ticks me off for the girls who already feel inferior to the “image of perfection” that isn’t even real promoted by music, magazine and movies. Girls that are made to be loved and for them bad love is better than no love. And hearing these words is so tempting.

It ticks me off for the boys who become predators instead of protectors and who so easily fall into the lies that this is how to get love. Because boys are made to be loved too. And hearing these words is so tempting.

Tempting to believe they are true.

If we do not stand up and shout the truth about love, our culture will tell them: it is how you look on the outside and to really feel loved get in the dark.

So, what is the truth? You are loved. You are created to be loved by God. It isn’t how you look on the outside or even how others see you. Being beautiful is a product of being well loved not a way to get love. The dark is a place to hide and pretend. The light is the place to rise and shine.

This weekend we are doing a God Encounter with our teens. We will have about 20 of them who are taking time out of their culture to really look at who God is and what His plan is for sin, sex, inner healing, forgiveness, body image and wholeness. Pray for us. Pray that the darkness is destroyed by the light and God’s incomparable love shatters the lies and “lines” of our current culture.

Pray that we continue to:

Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping. (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 MSG)

The great enabler…

I sat down and listened to myself preach the “Masterpiece” the night before last. I uploaded it on my website and wanted to make sure it all worked. Here is the link for those who want to have a listen:

http://www.cindygrasso.com/Cindy_Grasso/Audio_Messages.html

It is weird for me to hear my own voice. However, after about a minute I forget it is me and just listen. One of the things I don’t remember saying, but loved was: “I like a good plan- of course, since I do, I often have to surrender that plan to God because He has a better one” (or something like that).

This morning in my quiet time, I came across this little nugget of wisdom:

We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.
(Proverbs 16:9 MSG)

I think we all know how we want to live. We can see it in our minds eye and vaguely know the “feeling” of what we want it to be. This is what marketers and advertisers count on. They set up scenarios and products in a ” If you do this, you will feel this” type of thing. Buy this product and it will make your life easier. Buy this product and you will be happier, healthier, and better looking. But products without purpose are empty and possessing good looks on the outside means little to the condition of your soul.

Even without any outside influence, I think we know the life we want to live. We know we want to be filled with joy and purpose. We know we want to be healthy. We know we want to love and be loved in return.

Thus, we make a plan. But the problem is, we don’t have a clue what we are doing. We don’t know what will actually make us happy and fulfilled. We don’t know how to be healthy. We don’t really know how give love and receive it back. We try. We give what we have and live what we know. Then we get upset it just doesn’t work. You can have it all – all the ingredients to make a “good life” but are unable to actually live it.

Why? Because you were made to be in relationship with the divine. Connected to the source. In communication with your creator. And with God- all things are possible.

It is possible to live the life you were created to live but only when you are enabled by God. With God you can experience joy as He directs you in your purpose. With God, you can learn to walk health- physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally. With God, you can unlearn your way to love and relearn His way. With God, your splintered heart can be mended and healed to receive all the wonderful love sent your way.

He is your great enabler.
So go ahead- take a walk with God and live your abundant life.

On a side note: I love you and am so very thankful for you!